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Band of Horses - Why Are You OK (2016) review


Band of Horses - Why Are You OK (Interscope Records, 2016) 

It's easy, with the opening track suggesting a dreamy indie rock soundscape, that listeners might think they’re being treated to an entirely new adventure here on Why Are You OK.  But on this their fifth album, that quickly changes as the band shifts into a low gear of eager grooves dominated by a sustained backbeat and reverb laced gestures that moves throughout the entire release, not so much relentlessly, yet certainly with more than a guiding hand, carrying the lo-fi stompers forward with an almost orchestral movement of weighty textured rich and hauntingly dark atmospheric songs designed to reach out and hold you tight … or at least that seems to be the desired destination.  Yet even with the production values laid down to roughen up the edges in 2012 by Glyn Johns, who worked with The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, Why Are You OK comes off as a soft sonic riff that builds little on their past, suggesting that they’ve reworked unused or undeveloped ideas from the previous outings, creating an ambient selection, that while pleasant enough, really doesn’t take the listener anywhere.


Even with all this effort, the songs sound far too weighted and directionless in this thematic dark pool of isolation that can not bother or effect you, coming off as mere comfortable places to sit until the main attraction comes rolling along … and for that coming attraction I kept waiting, but the headlights never rounded the corner, and the album ended with me feeling that Band Of Horses hadn’t reached me, hadn’t opened my door and given me a reason to invite them to stay.  With all that being said, I’ve nothing actually negative to say about the release either, I simply feel that it's all been beautiful homespun foreplay with no payoff, and far too many moments of simplicity strung together, laying at my feet like a sleeping cat.

- Jenell Kesler
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